Monday, 10 January 2011

Beer as medicine? Scientists say ancient cultures used it as an antibiotic

Tetracycline is naturally produced by a soil bacteria called streptomyces, and scientists theorized that streptomyces might have thrived in vats of Nubian beer. Recently, a more extended analysis of ancient Nubian bones revealed consistently high concentrations of tetracycline. The new findings suggest the Nubians were regularly consuming tetracycline and had mastered the complicated brewing process necessary to routinely brew antibiotic beer. The conclusion contradicts the notion that antibiotics are a modern invention.

"Discovering the tetracycline was like unwrapping an Egyptian mummy and seeing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses strapped to the head," says George Armelagos, an anthropology professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "It was that surprising."

Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinal

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